5.1/6.1/7.1 placement questions for fairly small room - AVS Forum
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

I am a total newbie when it comes to home theater and surround sound, and am currently installing my first surround setup ever. So far I have purchased 2Polk Audio Monitor 50s for my fronts, Polk CS1 for my center, and 2 Polk Monitor 30s for my side surrounds. I don't really need any help w/ components to buy....what I do need help with is how best to place everything in my small room (once I get a sub and a receiver, of course).


My room is roughly 16 feet long by 11 feet wide, with a ceiling of about 7.5 feet. The room is very rectangularish. Currently I have a 32-inch 720p HDTV in there, and I prefer to watch it with the tv placed along the shorter 11-foot wall....this way I have more space in front of and behind my viewing position, and much less space on the left and right sides. This is done mainly b/c it just gives me more room to walk around freely.


Is it better to have the tv+front and center speakers along/near the 11-foot wall, or the longer 16-foot wall? If I leave things the way they are now, I think I would have plenty of space behind me to accomidate rear surround speakers for a 6.1 or 7.1 setup.....If I set things up the other way, I would have tons of space to the sides of my viewing/listening position, but not as much space in front of and behind me. I might not have enough room to put in some rear surrounds behind me if I do things that way, and if given a preference of a 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 setup, I would prefer at least a 6.1.


It seems that in most of the surround setup pics I look at, everyone always has their tv+fronts+center setup along the longest wall, not the shortest wall. I would assume this is the way it is supposed to be done so that the side surrounds aren't cramped practically right up beside the listener. What do you guys think? Does it matter? Is my room too small for even a 6.1?
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:55 AM
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i am in the EXACT situation

you can try googling Arrange a room, you can play around with layouts there,

this has been baffling me for about a month, so any suggestions would help me as well.

i feel for you!
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:15 PM
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Both long and short walls have their own unique issues that must be dealt with. If the long wall is chosen, then you have little to no space between the seating position and the back wall and may have some undesired bass artifacts in the form of boominess depending on what your walls are made of. Having your equipment setup on the short wall has the advantage of not being right on the back wall, but can be very problematic for mid bass response since the middle of a room is normally a dead zone for bass unless you have good room treatments and possibly multiple subwoofers. If you don't have those things, you'll most likely to be forced to push your seating position back to 3/4 the distance from the front of the room which will put you almost, not on, but almost to the back wall. For someone with a smaller display than 50 inches will be hatin' life trying to see the screen from that distance. Plus room treatments are even more important since the main speakers will be much much closer to the side walls than if they were setup on the long wall which can destroy sound quality by making your highs sound overly bright and harsh if these reflection points of the walls are not treated with acoustical dampening material. So in the end, a few relatively minor compromises vs. a handful of major ones are usually the choices you are left with.

Many might say that you don't want the couch up against the back wall, and they're right for thinking that. However you will have a much bigger fight on your hands for sound quality in other aspects if you chose the short wall. I have a 21 X 13 room and I tried the short wall. I had tons of low low bass, but no and I mean no mid bass where I needed to sit in order to see my 34 inch TV.

Ideal placement is not something that is absolute. Every room is different. Experimentation and testing is the only way to optimize speaker placement. The best thing I can tell you is to always mind your surroundings while moving your main speakers around. Mind that moving speakers and subwoofers closer to walls may increase their bass response but also may make the bass less accurate and make the highs harsh. Moving them away from wall may decrease their bass response while cleaning up the harsh highs, but dead bass is often way way worse than just harsh highs. Most of the time unless you have treatments and/or extra equipment, you must meet somewhere in the middle of those two. Center and surround speakers must be exactly where they should be, so optimizing them is more up to room or speaker treatments and/or some sort of parametric equalizer like Audessey or YPAO. This all sounds like a pain in the neck, and it certainly is. But it is great once it's all done.

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mr. Audio View Post

Both long and short walls have their own unique issues that must be dealt with. If the long wall is chosen, then you have little to no space between the seating position and the back wall and may have some undesired bass artifacts in the form of boominess depending on what your walls are made of. Having your equipment setup on the short wall has the advantage of not being right on the back wall, but can be very problematic for mid bass response since the middle of a room is normally a dead zone for bass unless you have good room treatments and possibly multiple subwoofers. If you don't have those things, you'll most likely to be forced to push your seating position back to 3/4 the distance from the front of the room which will put you almost, not on, but almost to the back wall. For someone with a smaller display than 50 inches will be hatin' life trying to see the screen from that distance. Plus room treatments are even more important since the main speakers will be much much closer to the side walls than if they were setup on the long wall which can destroy sound quality by making your highs sound overly bright and harsh if these reflection points of the walls are not treated with acoustical dampening material. So in the end, a few relatively minor compromises vs. a handful of major ones are usually the choices you are left with.

Many might say that you don't want the couch up against the back wall, and they're right for thinking that. However you will have a much bigger fight on your hands for sound quality in other aspects if you chose the short wall. I have a 21 X 13 room and I tried the short wall. I had tons of low low bass, but no and I mean no mid bass where I needed to sit in order to see my 34 inch TV.

Ideal placement is not something that is absolute. Every room is different. Experimentation and testing is the only way to optimize speaker placement. The best thing I can tell you is to always mind your surroundings while moving your main speakers around. Mind that moving speakers and subwoofers closer to walls may increase their bass response but also may make the bass less accurate and make the highs harsh. Moving them away from wall may decrease their bass response while cleaning up the harsh highs, but dead bass is often way way worse than just harsh highs. Most of the time unless you have treatments and/or extra equipment, you must meet somewhere in the middle of those two. Center and surround speakers must be exactly where they should be, so optimizing them is more up to room or speaker treatments and/or some sort of parametric equalizer like Audessey or YPAO. This all sounds like a pain in the neck, and it certainly is. But it is great once it's all done.


After reading your post, I will try placing my main speakers along the long wall and experiment with how it sounds (once I get the rest of my components, which will be very soon). In regards to wall construction, what kinds of walls would be most likely to produce boominess if I place my mains along the longer wall? Also, what are some basic acoustical dampening materials I might want to look into?




The only real concern I had w/ the setup along the longer wall was having the couch back too far - and not having enough room to squeeze in any rear surround speakers behind me. I think I will be able to pull it off....Even if that means having some bass artifacts, I can live with that. Having a 6.1 or higher setup, while keeping my viewing distance from my 32-inch tv as close to ideal, are my top 2 priorities for now.
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:43 AM
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I prefer to watch it with the tv placed along the shorter 11-foot wall....this way I have more space in front of and behind my viewing position, and much less space on the left and right sides.

I would keep things oriented that way if you want an effective 7.1 layout, since it will give you good separation between the side and rear speakers. You can usually improve frequency response by placing the listening area at one of the 1/3rd points of the room's dimension. So for a 16 foot length, I would place the couch about 10-11 feet back from the front wall.

That gives you roughly 5 feet to the back wall, where you can mount the rear speakers, spread about 6 feet apart (so you can hear stereo separation behind you). Another pair of the same surrounds you already have (Monitor 30) will be fine for rear speakers. I would mount all four surrounds at least a couple of feet above ear level.

See attached diagram of a typical 7.1 layout.

Good Luck,
Sanjay
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I would keep things oriented that way if you want an effective 7.1 layout, since it will give you good separation between the side and rear speakers. You can usually improve frequency response by placing the listening area at one of the 1/3rd points of the room's dimension. So for a 16 foot length, I would place the couch about 10-11 feet back from the front wall.

That gives you roughly 5 feet to the back wall, where you can mount the rear speakers, spread about 6 feet apart (so you can hear stereo separation behind you). Another pair of the same surrounds you already have (Monitor 30) will be fine for rear speakers. I would mount all four surrounds at least a couple of feet above ear level.

See attached diagram of a typical 7.1 layout.

Good Luck,
Sanjay


Aaargh! Two conflicting opinons....you and Mr. Audio both clearly know a lot more than I do about audio. If I had my receiver and sub yet, I would go ahead and test both layouts to see which one sounds better....but that will be at least a few more weeks. I am torn b/t getting an Onkyo 606, or waiting for one of the new Pioneer receivers that is coming out in April (7.1 and fully stacked w/ HD decoding for only $400).

As far as the Monitor 30s go, with my room do you think it would be better to wall mount them or place them on speaker stands (if there are any that will fit)?
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Old 01-22-2009, 03:28 PM
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I am torn b/t getting an Onkyo 606, or waiting for one of the new Pioneer receivers that is coming out in April (7.1 and fully stacked w/ HD decoding for only $300).

The room correction in the Onkyo 606 leaves much to be desired, so I would wait to see what Pioneer delivers in April.
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As far as the Monitor 30s go, with my room do you think it would be better to wall mount them or place them on speaker stands (if there are any that will fit)?

Couple of reasons to wall mount them above ear height. At ear level, they may be distracting when placed a few feet away. Placing them higher up will make the sound a bit more diffused and a little more enveloping. At ear level, all four surrounds will create a nice ring of sound around you. Placed higher up adds a sense of height, making for more of a bubble of sound in the surround field.

If you want to try them initially at ear height, then use whatever you have lying around (boxes, cinderblocks, etc) as temporary stands. Better than investing in real speaker stands only to find out after experimenting that you don't like your surrounds at ear height.

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Old 01-23-2009, 12:55 PM
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Just from another point of view room correction from a receiver in general is not a good fix for serious acoustical problems. I'm only saying that so you don't place all your faith in a parametric EQ. Parametric EQs cannot compensate for major bass cancellation which is always the biggest battle to fight. You can tame highs and mids quite easily but bass will make you pull your hair out. A PEQ will help you get rid of pretty good sized peaks but forget about nulls. I have the Yamaha 659 which is known to only have at best an average PEQ, but it sounds fantastic because I took care of all the major acoustical issues before running the auto setup.

As for the speakers being mounted high or at ear height, I prefer ear height. In my experience with my own system, I have found that direct firing speakers at ear level become locatable by your ears because:

1. Your surround speakers are too loud.
2. Your speaker distances are not set correctly.
3. Your surround speakers are too close to your ears.

1. If your speakers are simply too loud it is easy to conclude why you can locate them and I don't think I need to explain why.
2. Number 1 cause of speakers being locatable is bad distance settings on the receiver. If the sound from your surrounds arrive at your ears at the wrong time (in this case too soon), your surrounds will stick out like a sore thumb.
3. This is why a lot of people want to mount surrounds high. Surrounds that physically too close to the listening position can easily be singled out because they don't have what every other speaker in the system has. Ambient sound from the room. So the general fix for this is to mount the speakers higher so the direct sound from the tweeter never really makes it to your ears. This is effective. The only problem I have with it is that all I can hear is reflected ambient sound and not enough direct sound. My surround back speakers are only 4 and 1/2 feet from my listening position which is too close. However they are dipole speakers that have drivers on the opposite side that creates the reflected ambient sound of the room to distract my ears from the direct so I am getting the best of both worlds. Bipole speakers would have worked too. My side surrounds are 8 feet away which is plenty of space to create ambient sound before the sound reaches my ears.

To each his own. Many people get a greater sense of surround by hearing tons of room ambiance. If that statement weren't true, Yamaha wouldn't stick so much DSP alternative ways of listening to sound on their receivers. Doesn't make it wrong, I just prefer to have direct as well as reflective sound.

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Old 01-23-2009, 10:59 PM
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Just from another point.......

Sorry but a $399 Yamaha receiver does not incorporate a PEQ. Besides Yamaha's overabundance of useless DSP's, their YPAO feature is something that should be bypassed and the system calibrated manually.
Dont ask me how I know.

And regarding your choice of direct radiating side surrounds at ear level and dipoles for back surrounds are against the grain IMO, but whatever suits you best.
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:25 AM
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Sorry but a $399 Yamaha receiver does not incorporate a PEQ.

The Yamaha RX-V659 has YPAO, which is indeed a parametric equalizer. You cannot adjust it manually, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

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Old 01-24-2009, 09:41 AM
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Sorry but a $399 Yamaha receiver does not incorporate a PEQ. Besides Yamaha's overabundance of useless DSP's, their YPAO feature is something that should be bypassed and the system calibrated manually.
Dont ask me how I know.

Roger already corrected you on this so I won't beat a dead horse. About Yamaha's DSP, don't knock it. While purists will steer clear from it, some of their DSP modes are dead on. Such as their enhanced DD and DTS surround that is made for people who want the sound to sound exactly like a movie theater's acoustics. It is dead on accurate and sounds very impressive. I'm more of a purist, so I don't use it hardly at all because while it sounds exactly like I'm in a movie theater, theaters tend to have tons of ambient sound which cannot be helped since there is 300 to 500 people in it and they must mount the speakers in such a way that everyone can get an equal experience. While most of Yamaha's DSP is not for me, it is for some people and has it's uses.

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And regarding your choice of direct radiating side surrounds at ear level and dipoles for back surrounds are against the grain IMO, but whatever suits you best.

How does this go against the grain?

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Old 01-24-2009, 01:45 PM
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The Yamaha RX-V659 has YPAO, which is indeed a parametric equalizer. You cannot adjust it manually, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

Sorry, I should have said a proper parametric EQ since it does not compensate levels below 63hz. Its like someone saying they're bi-amping their speakers that have passive crossovers and utilizing their surround channels. Close but not really.

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About Yamaha's DSP, don't knock it.

I can if I tried it. To each his own.

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How does this go against the grain?

I'm sure you know the standard practice is dipoles for side surrounds and direct radiating for rear surrounds, correct?
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Old 01-24-2009, 05:49 PM
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Sorry, I should have said a proper parametric EQ since it does not compensate levels below 63hz. Its like someone saying they're bi-amping their speakers that have passive crossovers and utilizing their surround channels. Close but not really.

Ahhh, you wanted a proper parametric equalizer. Well, that's a horse of a different color.

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Old 01-25-2009, 01:42 AM
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I'm sure you know the standard practice is dipoles for side surrounds and direct radiating for rear surrounds, correct?

Yes I am very well aware of the "standard" way of doing things, but I'm not interested in the rule book. I had to do what sounded best, and using the dipoles with the null facing my ears didn't work out so well since my couch is directly against the back wall. So the dipoles are just behind my ears and the sides are directly on my side. The drivers on the dipoles are 180 degrees opposite of each other so they look like a bipole. I used a bipole configuration so the speaker's sound travels along the back wall which is behind my ears and since it is a dipole the null cuts down the dispersion that helps keep the sound behind my ears. Since they are only 4 and 1/2 feet from my listening position, the opposite drivers create ambient sound to distract from the direct sound. It's more of a trick than a standard setup, but a trick that works well.
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Sorry, I should have said a proper parametric EQ since it does not compensate levels below 63hz. Its like someone saying they're bi-amping their speakers that have passive crossovers and utilizing their surround channels. Close but not really.

No, what you should have said is that you made the wrong assumption about my 400 dollar receiver since there is no such thing as a "proper" PEQ in the first place. There are PEQs that are more elaborate but the 659 has a proper PEQ and does it's job well.

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Old 01-25-2009, 12:43 PM
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Yes I am very well aware of the "standard" way of doing things, but I'm not interested in the rule book.

If you're aware, then why did you ask?


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No, what you should have said is that you made the wrong assumption about my 400 dollar receiver since there is no such thing as a "proper" PEQ in the first place. There are PEQs that are more elaborate but the 659 has a proper PEQ and does it's job well.

So your Yamaha does everything an external parametric EQ does....including all frequencies?
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:53 PM
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If you're aware, then why did you ask?

It was a mistake on my part due to the assumption that a "proper" audio enthusiast would know that the rule book does not always apply.

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So your Yamaha does everything an external parametric EQ does....including all frequencies?

For 400 bucks, what do you think? Of course it doesn't. I suppose you just wanted to see me type it out as you laugh scornfully. That's fine. There was a time when PEQs in receivers didn't exist you know. There was also a time where there was no such thing as bass management. My Denon 2801 has very simple bass management. It high passes at 80Hz when speakers are set to small. It's not nearly as elaborate as my Yamaha which high passes at 40, 60, 80, 120, 160, and 200Hz and even low passes the subwooer at those exact same points. Which one is proper? The Denon had simple distance adjustments that adjusted in 1 foot increments with no independent adjustment for the subwoofer. The Yamaha has independent adjustments for each channel and adjusts in 1/2 foot increments. Which one is proper? My Denon had no PEQ, and my Yamaha does. Which one is proper? My Denon broke the audio for a half a second after making distance adjustments as where my Yamaha makes no breaks in the audio so I can hear changes in real time which makes it easier to calibrate. The question most of the time is not whether you have the "proper" equipment, but rather do you have the ability to make up for the limitations in your equipment, room, and budget? I'm assuming your answer to that question is no. I paid 560 bucks for my Denon 2801 and 360 for my Yamaha 659. By the time I buy my next receiver it will most likely have a more elaborate PEQ, HDMI video switching and audio decoding, more elaborate bass management, more up to date surround sound processing, and more of whatever new technology they have come up with for receivers all for around the same price I paid for the Yamaha. No I can't afford the best PEQ. I work with what I have and what I can afford like many people do. The Yamaha does it's job well, and the next receiver will no doubt do the job even better. Either way, there is no such thing as proper.

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Old 01-26-2009, 12:29 AM
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It was a mistake on my part due to the assumption that a "proper" audio enthusiast would know that the rule book does not always apply.

A proper enthusiast such as yourself I presume?

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For 400 bucks, what do you think? Of course it doesn't. I suppose you just wanted to see me type it out........

Wow, hit a nerve there Mr. Audio?
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:40 AM
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A proper enthusiast such as yourself I presume?

Yes.

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Wow, hit a nerve there Mr. Audio?

Whatever troll.

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Old 01-26-2009, 09:35 AM
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My Denon 2801 has very simple bass management. It high passes at 80Hz when speakers are set to small. It's not nearly as elaborate as my Yamaha which high passes at 40, 60, 80, 120, 160, and 200Hz and even low passes the subwooer at those exact same points. Which one is proper?



Are you sure that those are high pass filters? A lot of receivers use full crossovers for each channel group. The so called "subwoofer LP" is only used for LFE filtering.

Look at your on screen menu and manual again and see what words are used.
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:58 AM
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A full crossover consists of a high and low pass filter which is what the Yamaha does. The Denon high passes all speakers set to small, but does not low pass the subwoofer. The subwoofer must have it's own built-in low pass on the Denon. The Yamaha does both. I don't need to look at the manual or my OSD again. Those points are all crossover points. Meaning if it is set to 200Hz, all speakers set to small will be high passed at 200Hz and the sub will be low passed at 200Hz. I don't understand the confusion here.

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